What is Soil Science?
Soil is the extremely thin but precious skin covering our planet that sustains all terrestrial life forms and contributes nutrients and filters contaminants to aquatic environments. Soil Science focuses on the importance of soils as a very slowly renewable natural resource. It involves the study of the properties and processes that occur in soils, as well as the sustainable use and management of soils for the benefit of mankind. Given the rapidly growing population, possible future water shortages, increasing pollution, soil degradation and ever-increasing food needs, Soil Science is indispensible for the prosperous future of humankind.
The Department of Soil Science
The Department of Soil Science considers the management and improvement of Southern Africa’s soils to be of crucial importance, and a huge responsibility rests on the shoulders of researchers in this field to promote the sensible and sustainable utilisation of the soil. The Department of Soil Science teaches and conducts research in all the major sub-disciplines of Soil Science, which include soil formation and classification (Pedology), soil mapping and land evalution, soil chemistry, soil fertility, soil physics, soil water management, soil hydrology, remote sensing of soils, soil biology and soil ecology. Undergraduate students are equipped with fundamental scientific knowledge of soils, but also practical experience. This includes learning how to classify soils in the field and compile a land suitability survey; how to sample soils and determine soil chemical and physical properties in the field and laboratory; and how to interpret the results of the analysis and write up scientific reports. Postgraduate students are mentored to be able to formulate and conduct experiments, analyze and interpret data, and write-up research for publication in peer-reviewed publications.
BScAgric (Plant and Soil Sciences)
The four-year programme in Crop Production Systems covers training in producing crops such as agronomic and vegetable crops, pastures, deciduous fruit, citrus and vine.
In this programme there are three fields of study from which you may choose:
- Crop Production
- Crop Protection and Breeding
- Soil and Water Management
In the field of Soil and Water Management, you are trained to understand the nature, importance and management of soil and water as they relate to crop production and enviromental management. You can major in Soil Science and either Agronomy, Chemistry, Horticulture, Plant Pathology or Viticulture. Taking one of these streams prepares you for a variety of careers in the agriculture industry or enviromental-related industries, including careers such as consultant, entrepreneur, manager, technician or researcher.